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Getting the Most Out of Continuing Education

BlogBeauty Student Advice | March 12, 2014

This week’s singing birds, longer days, and melting snow whisper spring’s arrival to Pennsylvania. I couldn’t be more excited!

At the salon, it is the time of year when I ask my clients about their upcoming summer plans and begin to contemplate my own. At home, flyers and pamphlets and e-mails with ongoing education opportunities flood my mail and computer’s inbox.   I am posed with a wealth of options, from hair shows to hands-on classes, and destination training events.


How do we begin to weigh options, and how do we get the most out of our ongoing education experience?

Be Proactive!  Maybe you work at a salon that chooses your education for the year and pays for your training, but this is not standard. You may find that you need to be more proactive in choosing your own continuing education.  If so, start by making a list of areas you would like to grow in and topics that interest you, then seek out classes that cover those topics. There are a range of contexts for cosmetology training. These include (but are not limited to); Product line seminars , hair shows, university or studio classes, and apprenticeship or shadowing.

Product lines: If you work with a specific product line (haircolor, styling, etc.), you may want to contact your product rep and ask for a list of training options offered through their company. Because you are using/selling their product, you might be able to take advantage of free or discounted courses. Many product lines offer education based on a “point” system. You acquire points by selling or using their products and can then apply it to ongoing education.

Hairshows: This is a large venue featuring a collection of educators and vendors coming together to inform stylists about their favorite products or techniques. Hairshows are a great way to get a lot of training in a short period of time without arduously hunting it down. However, because of their size, they can be overwhelming.  Before arriving, it is a good idea to review the schedule and select the classes that you are most interested in, then jot down the times and locations so that you have a personal schedule for your day. I have spent many unproductive days energetically bouncing around from class to class without settling in long enough to learn anything. Be more organized than I am, and plan ahead!

University or Studio Classes:  Often located in major cities, a “hair university” will offer intensive classes on a variety of topics. They are usually connected to a product line and training often lasts for 1-5 days. I love this immersive genre of education because it takes me out of my normal surroundings and plunges me headlong into the world of hair. The instructors are committed to inspiring you and encouraging growth.  Each time that I have attended this type of training I have increased in knowledge and passion for my career.

Master Apprentice Winner, Kristie McGunnigle with Nick Arrojo.

Apprenticeship/Shadowing: A unique way of expanding your “know how” is through apprenticeship or shadowing.  I have spoken to cosmetologists who seek out opportunities to spend time at another salon for the day. They may shadow a particular stylist to learn new techniques or be refreshed in older methods. Due to competition among salons, these occasions are more rare, but still very possible. A salon not in your area may be more willing to share their insight. Perhaps you have a friend who is a stylist in another state or city whom you can visit. A product representative servicing your workplace may be helpful in finding a salon who carries the same products and are willing to pass on some of their knowledge.

Whatever you choose, keep learning. You will never regret it!

“Learning is not attained by chance, it must be sought for with ardor and attended to with diligence.”
Abigail Adams

Leah Perlman

Written by Leah Perlman

Leah is an Empire graduate who has been in the industry for 7 years. She has worked at The Bell Tower Salon and Spa in Wyomissing, PA for 6 years . She serves on the salon's education team and is involved in planning and educating for their stylists-in-training program.

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